Learning Through Sugar

I had the honour and privilege to teach several hundred kids during Art Prize Education Days in Grand Rapids, Michigan a couple of weeks ago. I was there for 10 days creating a site-specific sugar mural at the Grand Rapids Public Museum for an event called Art Prize. The museum invited me to teach kids workshops for 4 days to ages ranging from 5-17.  I developed 2 different types of age-appropriate workshops, both using edible sugar-based materials.

Before each workshop, the kids saw my mural. I spoke about the concept behind the work, how it relates to the history of sugar and its' links to colonization and slavery. I explained how the decay of the work over time, through fading and crumbling, is linked to the relationship between the wealth of some and the ruin of others. I encouraged them to think about where materials and foods come from today. How are things made? By whom? Do forms of slavery and oppression continue today?  

As always, I got interesting questions and some very thoughtful comments. I think kids grasp complex subjects better than most adults think and we should bring them into conversations more often. I left each of these 4 days feeling tired, but very much rejuvenated. I certainly hope to teach kids workshops again. I think I can learn a lot from them...